“Let’s just agree to disagree.”
If you constantly find yourself butting heads with friends, family members or coworkers, chances are you’ve had this phrase flung at you once an argument starts getting heated.
The standard reply is to narrow your eyes at the individual standing across from you, give him or her a terse nod and move on to the next topic of conversation. This is becoming unacceptable.
Let’s not agree to disagree. Let’s verbally hash it out.
English author and humorist Douglas Adams once said, “All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well-supported in logic and argument than others.”
I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Adams.
We shouldn’t expect people to accept our opinions as valid just because they come out of our mouths. We should have to fight for our opinions, corroborate them and inform people why our opinions can in any way invalidate others.
The problem with these exchanges often turns out to be naïveté and fear. At some point in the conversation, we become so afraid that we’re going to look stupid or ignorant in front of the other person that we look for the fastest route out of the discussion. When this happens, we drop a line about how we’re entitled to our own opinion, expect that the person we’re speaking to will accept this as an olive branch and things will continue on as they were.
Why is it wrong to disagree with someone? Why is it now commonplace to avoid real confrontations in favor of a less distressing conversation?
In his essay “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion,” Deakin University lecturer Patrick Stokes makes a similar point.
“No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven,” said Stokes. “But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth,’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.”
We live in a society where 140-character limits have become the norm for everyday interaction. Having a rousing argument and in-depth deliberation with a friend is not something people are accustomed to anymore.
However, refusing to educate ourselves before we verbally parry with our friends will inevitably breed a culture of ignorance and complacency. Refusal to concede defeat in an argument and unwillingness to admit that we might be wrong is very dangerous.
Our generation is too often bombarded with generalizations and criticisms from older generations about our short attention spans, gross sense of entitlement and spoiled upbringings.
By dismissing thoughtful, well-argued opinions, because we don’t want to be proven wrong, we open up the floor to these criticisms about our generation and reinforce their validity.
The next time someone asks you to “agree to disagree” with their point of view, call them out on it. Don’t make them feel worthless or inadequate next to your decidedly superior point of view, but ask them to explain. You should tell them why you think they’re wrong.
But that’s just my opinion.
Send Lorraine your best arguments at email@example.com or follow her at @lolonghi